One of the most frustrating things that can arise when caring for a special needs child is when you cannot find resources suited for them and their family. Therefore, Caroline Bilal, a mother to a child who has a rare genetic syndrome, came up with the idea to create a platform that allows parents to easily access more information efficiently.
MyConnect, which launched on March 2, 2022, started when Bilal, a Chappaqua resident, realized that she wasn’t alone when it came to searching up information regarding her child. “Other parents were struggling too,” says Bilal. “I wanted a one-stop shop for special needs.”
Bilal, who has over 10 years of non-profit experience, needed more help to create this platform. That is when she met Faradjine Laurore. “I read Caroline’s story online and was shocked that there wasn’t a platform already,” says Laurore. “It was an issue that needed to be solved.” At that moment, Laurore joined Bilal and they became a team.
Currently, MyConnect is still in the pilot stages of development and is solely based out of Westchester County. The platform has two main features: a special needs directory and a community tab. The special needs directory, which has 13 sub-categories, is used for caregivers to find local professionals and programs to assist their child. The community tab is for parents to interact with each other and ask questions with one another.
To make things even easier for parents, MyConnect has an AI (artificial intelligence) feature that matches users with each other. When someone signs up for MyConnect, they answer a few questions about their child and what diagnoses they have. Those answers are compared to other users and match the parents so they can interact with each other.
MyConnect continues to be in testing mode, although it has widened its range to Manhattan to reach a larger area and a larger demographic. “We want to listen to the users and how it can be improved,” says Bilal. “We are still in testing mode and still learning about everyone’s needs.”
MyConnect is the first platform of its kind and is being used to help parents, and even children, connect with similar families. Not only does this platform help parents talk to other parents, but it also allows the children to go out to special needs-based activities and programs where they can make friends and build relationships.